What is French pressed coffee?

by Theresa
(Atlanta, Georgia)

French pressed coffee keeping warm on an old-fashioned stove.

French pressed coffee keeping warm on an old-fashioned stove.


Some co-workers were raving about ‘French pressed coffee’ the other day.

I wasn’t sure whether they were talking about a way to make coffee, or an actual coffee brewer.

Can you explain please?



Theresa, hi

I’d be happy to explain.

They were actually talking about a very particular piece of coffee making equipment, AND a process.

I’ve added a photo of a French press above.

Just to complicate things, the French press is also known by a variety of other names - including cafeteria, press pot, coffee plunger, cafetière and coffee press.

The classic French press is made with glass, although you can find models that are made from steel or ceramic.

But they all work in the same way.

You add hot water and ground coffee to the beaker, stir, let it sit for about 4 minutes, and then gently push down on the filter rod, which separates the coffee grinds from the water with a steel mesh screen.

That, in a nutshell is how a French press works.

As for the part that people rave about… that’s probably about the particular taste or flavors you can get when making “French pressed coffee”.

The main point of difference compared to making coffee with a drip brewer - or even a single serve brewer – is that there’s no paper filter.

When you separate the ground coffee from the hot water with a paper filter, you also filter out most of the oils.

And it’s in the oils that you’ll find many of the more subtle notes of a coffee’s flavor.

In other words, a French press allows you to enjoy the full flavor of your coffee – because it separates the ground coffee with a filter made with a fine steel mesh. Not paper.

I don’t know if this exactly matches with what your co-workers were talking about, but this is the reason most people swear by coffee made with a French press.

If you want to learn more, we have a full page devoted to making French press coffee here.

Best wishes,


Comments for What is French pressed coffee?

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French pressed is the simplest and the best
by: Frank B.

I've tried all kinds of coffee makers over the years. Goodness knows how much I have spent! I even worked in a coffee shop for a while.

And now, many years later, I've settled back to using my trusty French press.

So simple. So easy. And the richness of the coffee... Love it!

My advice is to skip all the fancy brewers and stick with a French press.

French press coffee is like "high-resolution" coffee!
by: Tim

A friend of mine gave me a really good description of how pressed coffee is better.

He said it’s like the difference between seeing something on a low resolution screen and a high resolution screen. On the high resolution screen, everything look clearer and sharper. You can see more details too.

Same with coffee. A drip brewer is a like a low resolution screen. A French press is the high-resolution alternative.

Brighter, clearer and better. With more detail in the taste and flavors.

I think that’s a pretty good description of French press coffee!

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